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12 December, 2018 - 01:16 By Tony Quested

Cambridge startup secures £1m for AI-powered expert finder

Cambridge startup techspert.io has secured £1 million in second round funding for its pioneering expert-finding and evaluating technology.

The round was led by Cambridge angel Simon Thorpe who has already demonstrated the Midas touch. He was an investor in Swiftkey and Vocal IQ – Cambridge-founded businesses bought by Google and Apple, respectively, for a combined $350 million.

The new round was also backed by Angel CoFund, a VC fund that co-invests alongside angel investors. John Spearman, GW Asia Capital Ltd and Adrian Lloyd also participated, and all three non-exec directors from round one have re-invested.

techspert.io has developed the first search engine capable of scouring the internet for experts available to answer the complex questions of all types of business. 

Quick access to expertise on demand is essential for growth and progress in everything from rare disease research to the development of sustainable fuels.

The startup plans to eliminate companies’ current dependency on established ‘expert networks’ like that of current market-leader, US-based Gerson Lehrman Group. 

The techspert.io AI pinpoints niche specialists who may not be members of current networks, in any given country, and quantitatively evaluates expertise in a move to create greater objectivity and transparency.

The team will now build on its profitable start in the healthcare and life sciences sectors to target the $5 billion ‘economy of knowledge’ – the global spend on sourcing and speaking to experts across all sectors and geographies. It is changing its name from Biotechspert to techspert.io as a result.

David Holden-White, co-founder and managing director of techspert.io said: “Our vision is for any company with a thorny question to get a better answer, quicker. Before techspert.io, companies seeking specialist knowledge typically had to use experts signed up to networks, leading to a high degree of self-selection. 

“Existing service providers generally use employees to search partial databases manually on behalf of clients, and experts often have to confirm their own suitability for a task.

“Our platform can scour more than 150 million experts in minutes to pinpoint and connect companies to highly-specific expertise. That’s a pool of experts around 30 times larger than they can access through any single expert network. 

“What’s more, the AI enables techspert to learn continuously, adjusting its ranking as it perfects its ability to recognise genuine expertise, and to evolve as experts do.”

Simon Thorpe added: “techspert.io’s potential to use truly specialist expertise to power more informed decisions and create faster progress is immense. The company has already proved its capability and market fit by satisfying one sector. This investment will accelerate techspert.io’s plans to revolutionise expert input across many other industry sectors.”

Clients of the groundbreaking service include in Europe, PwC, IQVIA and Sofinnova Partners, while ZS Associates is a US user.

Co-founders Graham Mills and David Holden-White set up the company in 2016, having found themselves at a loss trying to find healthcare and life sciences industry-specific expertise without contacts or significant budget. Several hours spent trawling the web led to a deep frustration that they discovered others shared. 

In setting up techspert.io their goal was to democratise access to expertise across the globe. Clients are charged for the time they spend speaking to experts, with techspert.io taking a percentage of this charge, or can opt for a subscription to the service.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: David Holden-White and Graham Mills, co-founders of techspert.io

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